"When it was evening, he reclined at the table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, 'Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.'" Imagine the twelve disciples in the dim-lit room, roasted lamb and bitter herbs. See them commemorating the eve of their release from Egypt, the night where the angel of death saw lamb's blood on Jewish lentils and spared the lives of his people. This night is about remembering the connection between death and freedom, the dichotomy between judgment and mercy.
But here in this moment of celebration, Jesus tells them that one will cast him outside of the blood-washed lentils. One of them will turn him over to murderers. He will soon taste the sting of death.
"And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, 'Is it I, Lord?' He answered, 'He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.'"
I have often wondered at their confusion. Wouldn't you know whether you were Jesus' betrayer? Wouldn't you know if you intended to cast him outside the Passover covering, to deliver him to the death angel? Evidently, the disciples found themselves equally prone to a fickle heart. In humility (or perhaps just confusion) they found themselves all traitors and finks, all stool pigeons, snitches, and turn-coats.
Jesus stares down the dipping dish, names the betrayer by proximity.
Can you hear the collective sigh of relief from those who sat on the far side of the table, those without easy access to Jesus' bowl? Can you hear their collective gasp at the realization that man who Jesus must have trusted the most (he was the treasurer, after all) would conspire against him?
"Judas, who would betray him answered, 'Is it I, Rabbi?' He said to him, 'You have said so.'"
Judas rises. The passion of Christ is coming. There will be blood.
Question: Today, ask yourself, "Is it I, Lord?"
*Scripture reading from Matthew 25:17-25
Photo by visualpanic@ via Creative Commons.